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Albatross Encounter Update for May 2015

Posted by Tracy Cooper (0 Comments)
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for May 2015.

As we near the winter months, our tours have become much quieter, which is typical for this time of year as New Zealand appeals more as a summer destination for birders, rather than a winter one! The weather can also be highly unpredictable at this time of year with Kaikoura basking in glorious sunshine and reaching astonishing temperatures of 28°C one day, before plummeting to a rather shocking 3°C the next, as a result of a polar front. A front such as this did materialise and was was described as a “savage polar rodent” which caused havoc throughout the South Island, bringing lots of bad weather. Kaikoura experienced swells of up to 7m with the State Highway at times being closed both North and South of Kaikoura, due to extreme weather conditions as waves crashed over the highway and rocks and other debris were strewn across the road. As you can imagine, even Gary didn’t take Encounter II out for 4 days due to extreme swell! Our boss, Dennis Buurman, filmed some of the swells and posted the video to YouTube, check out the video.

17 tours have operated this month. Species of interest this month has included black-browed and Buller’s albatross, reef heron, fairy prions, black shag, black-fronted terns and Australasian gannets. To see what was sighted this month, go to our sightings page.

We’ve been very fortunate with one of the local commercial fishing vessels “Bundi” operating close to the edge of the Kaikoura Canyon system. Fishing vessels can be hugely attractive to seabirds with the opportunity to seize offal discarded overboard. An abundance of species can be observed and this is where we typically find our greatest concentration of birds if fishing vessels are operating in the area. 

Once again, numbers of black-browed albatross and Buller’s albatross have increased and surprisingly, we still have a large number of white-capped albatross in the area. Salvin’s have all but disappeared on their winter migration to South America, although we do still sporadically see the occasional individual.

Orange 512 made an appearance on 4 occasions this month. She was last seen on only one occasion back at the beginning of February and despite her lack of appearances in recent years, she still remains one of the only 2 regular banded birds that we see here. It’s always great to spot a familiar bird and to know that she’s still alive and well. 

Spotted shags have been observed in the area in large numbers. The shag family is split into 3 different groups depending on their feet colour and spotted shags fall into the yellow footed shag category. These birds are endemic to New Zealand and are found around much of the South Island, but are only found in 2 areas in the North Island. Their diet consists of fish, crustacean and other invertebrates and they can forage up to 16km offshore. Although these birds haven’t been seen breeding on areas such as Barney’s Rock, they can frequently be observed roosting in large concentrations or flying in the typical “V” formation. 

So, that’s all our news for now, but remember to follow us on Facebook for the latest news..

Till next time.

Tour Photos
 © Albatross Encounter» Photographing Shags
 © Albatross Encounter» Fishing Vessel Bundi
 © Albatross Encounter» Waiting Expectantly
 Skipper Gary, checking out the huge swells at South Bay. 
© Albatross Encounter» Should I Go Out??
 © Albatross Encounter» Orange 512
 © Albatross Encounter» Spotted Shags

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